Mauritanian blogger's death sentence cut to two years

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir, the Mauritanian blogger sentenced to death Image copyright Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir
Image caption Mr M'khaitir says he did not mean to cause offence

An appeals court in Mauritania has reduced a death sentence given to a blogger to a two-year jail term.

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed M'khaitir was convicted of blasphemy in 2014.

He will be set free as he has spent more than two years in jail. His lawyer called the news a "great victory".

The blogger's article was considered insulting to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, although he said it was meant to criticise the use of religion to justify discrimination.

'Huge relief'

His blog was accused of questioning choices made by the Prophet Muhammad during holy wars in the 7th Century.

It also attacked the mistreatment of black Mauritanians who Mr M'khaitir argued were discriminated against.

At a previous appeal in 2016, the charge was downgraded from blasphemy to "unbelieving" but his sentence was left unchanged.

The case, in the north-western city of Nouadhibou, has divided the country, an Islamic republic.

As the appeal opened on Wednesday, conservative Muslim protesters were demanding his execution by hanging.

But Alioune Tine from Human Rights group Amnesty International said his release was "a huge relief" because he had "been jailed for nearly four years simply for peacefully expressing his opinions".

His lawyer Fatimata Mbaye told the AFP news agency that: "The law has been pronounced and religion has been respected".

More on this story

Around the BBC